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October 2015 Newsletter

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I've got a book called Anybody Can Write - A Playful Approach that was given to me several years ago.  It was given to me by someone in the church I served at the time who had heard me say more than once, "I've got a block about what to write for the newsletter this week."  Hence, the appropriate subtitle of Anybody Can Write:  Ideas for the Aspiring, the Beginning, and the Blocked Writer.

It's 8:30 on Sunday night and I need to have this column to Claudia tomorrow morning.  So what do I do?  I pull that book off the shelf.  I just happen to turn to page 68 first, on which are listed two suggestions, the first of which is,

"Take a word, a phrase, or idea, and play with it.  Poke at it; make fun of it.  Speculate.  Ruminate.  Cogitate.  Meditate.  All on paper.  Take any word.  Any phrase.  Any idea.  Whatever."

So OK, here goes...I'm going to do that with the first theological word (I am, after all, a clergy person) that comes to mind for me...the "stream of consciousness" style of writing is what I heard it called in my high school English classes...and the word that comes to mind for me about which to free associate is (a little drum roll, please)...God.

That really is the first theological word that came to mind.  Can't get much more theological than that, can we?  And here's the poke at it...cogitate, meditate...part suggested in Anybody Can Write:

God...Omigosh, didn't some '70s rock star actually give her child that name?  Could that have been Gracie Slick?...Isn't that a name that used to have more power in our culture than it seems to now?...Perhaps naming one's child that name was one of the signals of the word's decline...

"In God we trust," it says on some paper money I have - a one, a ten, a twenty, all three...but do we?  Trust in God,  that is...Do we really?  Seems we're often more apt to trust in ourselves, or our desires and wants, or our perceptions, our independence, our knowledge, our power, our ego, in the "things" we have or want to have...

Oh, but we've gotten away from the word.  How'd we do that?

We do that regularly, don't we?  We get away from it.  Sometimes we do that way too easily.  The word is God...It's easy to get away from...God...even for people like us.  Other things allure us, pull us, seduce us, persuade us, cajole us, coax us, sweet talk us, beckon us, entice us away...from God..., peace, wholeness, justice, mercy, forgiveness, power, eternity, benevolence, authority, truth, justice, relationship, kindness, understanding, creator, Lord...


God seeks us out, God loves us, God shapes us, God seeks to transform us...God entered into humanity as that man from Nazareth named Jesus in order to reach us with God's love.  Incarnation is the word.  God was born.  As a human being.  In Jesus God lived.  In Jesus God died.  In Jesus God rose again.  In and through Jesus God completed God's task.

Through Jesus God shows us who God is.  Through Jesus God shows us how we are called to live.

God...Thanks be to God!


Grace and Peace,

Bob Bushong
District Superintendent
East Central District

In The District
Pastor Appreciation Month
October is Pastor Appreciation Month.  It is important that we as parishioners say a word of appreciation to our pastor.  Many of you already have ways you do this.  Some send cards or emails with thanks and some give gifts.  Click HERE for ideas from the UMC.  However you do it, please recognize your pastors and their families.
Installation Service for Rev. Dr. Bob Bushong
Installation Service for
Rev. Dr. Bob Bushong
East Central District Superintendent

You are cordially invited to attend the installation service for
Dr. Bushong

Sunday, October 18, 2015
Asbury United Methodist Church
Sanctuary Building
220 W Horatio Avenue
Maitland, FL  32751

A reception immediately following the ceremony will be held in the Fellowship Hall.
Click HERE to view the event page and to click on the registration page.

Come welcome our new District Superintendent to the ECD!
Administration Staff Appreciation and Training
November 5, 2015 - Sanlando UMC, Longwood
Local Church Administrative Assistant Staff Appreciation and Training Day!
Thursday, November 5, 2015
8:35am - 3:00pm
Sanlando UMC, Longwood

Leave your work behind and take this opportunity to connect with other church staff, share ideas, learn new skills and continue to grow your administrative ministry. 

Who should attend?  Administrative Assistants, Church Secretaries, Communications Managers, Business Managers, Financial Managers

Topic Ideas?  Do you have a certain topic you want covered?  Email Janet Kelley and Claudia Sava your suggestions.

Join us for coffee, breakfast snacks, and fellowship beginning at 8:00am.
Benefits Meeting for Full Time ECD Clergy Receiving Health Benefits
October 27, 2015

Conference Board of Pension & Health Benefits - Freedom to Choose Initiative


The Freedom to Choose initiative is the board's proposal for transitioning the current clergy health insurance program from a Conference-sponsored group plan to an approach where individuals can purchase coverage of their choice with financial support from the local church.  Wendy McCoy, Conference Director of HR & Benefits will be with us to explain the proposal, answer questions and to hear feedback or concerns about the proposed change.  The CBOPHB will be finalizing this proposal at their meeting in February 2016.  Wendy would like to take feedback from the District clergy meetings to the Board to refine their proposal that will be presented for a vote during the 2016 Annual Conference.

Plan to join in this opportunity to educate members about this important issue.

Click HERE to select one of the two locations to attend.
Tuesday, October 27,2015
Tomoka UMC, Ormond Beach   10:00am - 11:00am
Asbury UMC, Maitland              2:00pm - 3:00pm 

Open Enrollment for Conference Health Plan
November 30, 2015 - December 7, 2015
Open Enrollment for Conference health plan participants will begin on November 30th and close on December 7, 2015.  All currently enrolled participants will be automatically enrolled in the new United Healthcare HDHP effective January 1, 2016.  No online re-enrollment is necessary.  During this window you do not need to contact the Benefits department unless you want to change the family members who have health insurance coverage.

Conference announces significant benefit changes for 2016
Participants will see increased health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket expenses next year. 
2016 Health Plan Changes

The Conference will host a live Open Enrollment webcast on Tuesday, Dec 1, 2015, at 11:00 a.m. to review the changes for 2016.  Viewers will also have the opportunity to submit questions during the webcast.  Join us to learn more about these important changes.

2016 Connectional Giving
The apportionments for 2016 are now available on the conference website.

To access your 2016 apportionment information:
  1. Go to the Conference homepage:
  2. Click on the "Monthly Reports" tab at the bottom right of the page.
  3. Click on the top link under Monthly Billing Reports:  "Click here to download monthly reports."
  4. Click on 2016 Apportionment Report in the drop down menu.  This link will take you to your 2016 apportionments.
  5. Enter your six digit GCFA number.
Annual Assessment of Clergy Leadership
To All Local Church Clergy and Staff Parish Relations Committees:


It's time again for the Annual Assessment of Clergy Leadership.  This assessment can be downloaded from the Office of Clergy Excellence website and is available in both English and Spanish.  It is due December 1, 2015.  The assessment's goal is to create a space for conversation and goal setting with the Staff Parish Relations Committee and their pastor.  Click HERE to access the assessment and instructions.

Please contact Janet Kelley at the EC District Office if you need clarification or further assistance in completing the Annual Assessment of Clergy Leadership.

A Message from Alice Williams, District Lay Leader
As I am writing this the headlines are filled with anticipation of the Pope's visit to America.  I have to confess that I've become a fan of Pope Francis and his desire for the Catholic Church to be in touch with people regardless of where they are.  It's a message I think churches in general need to heed.

Two stories I read recently about the Pope though really hit home.  First was that when the Pope first went to college his Mother had high hopes of him becoming a doctor.  So much so that he neglected to tell her that he had switched majors to become a priest.  Once while on break he came home for a visit and his Mom discovered his theology books and confronted him saying, "I thought you were going to study medicine!"  To which he replied, "But Momma don't you see?  I am studying medicine.  It's just medicine for the soul!"  Wow, isn't that a great way to sum up a divine calling!

The second article was a recap of an interview with the Pope regarding the state of the world and the church.  When asked about the many issues that confront the Catholic church, and most churches in general, the Pope responded, "I would rather serve a bruised church than a stale one."  Glory hallelujah and can I get an Amen to that?!

While as Methodists our theology may differ from the Catholic faith, I sure hope that we too would rather serve a church that may take it's knocks as we struggle with the issues we face than let our denomination become like week old bread!

Here's to a few bumps and bruises!

Grace and peace,
A Message from Jeff Campbell, District Disaster Coordinator
My wife went to visit our younger daughter this past weekend.  After taking care of business, each night found me preparing for bed by sitting on the couch and watching TV.  One of the shows that I kept turning to was "American Pickers", a History Channel reality series in which the two lead characters travel the country looking for "rusty gold", items people have neglected or forgotten but still have some value for someone else.  How is this relevant to disaster preparedness?  Well, I'll tell you.

This brings to mind the Bible verses Matthew 6:19-20.  "Don't store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal.  Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do no break in and steal."  My focus is on the first part of this passage.  If a tornado or hurricane blew all your possessions away forever, or a flood washed all of your things from your control how much would you not just miss but would not even think of again?  Everyone has irreplaceable treasures and memorabilia that we would try to replace at just about any cost.  There are also things that we store away in the garage and attic that we don't even remember owning.  Instead of focusing not only on what we need for three days to get us through a disaster, but also what if we got rid of some of those "earthly treasures" we have been holding on for too long?  I'm sure there are things we can let go of that would be welcomed by those without.  Sharing centers, clothing drives, or even recycle centers can assist in our preparation for disaster.  By getting rid of "stuff" we can turn our thought from what is of less importance in our lives.  After all, if something hasn't been thought about or used for a long time, how important could it be in your life?
If we look at making cleaning out our storage areas part of preparing for disaster, perhaps we can put our focus a little more on the second part of the passage above.  The fewer possessions we have to worry about the more we can clear up our minds for a better purpose.  If you want to look at it from a more practical perspective, there will be that much less that would end up in a landfill after tragedy hits.

Jeff Campbell 

Bishop's Clergy Gathering
October 6-7, 2015, LEC
The Annual Bishop's Clergy Gathering is next week, October 6-7 at the Life Enrichment Center.  It begins at 1:00pm on Tuesday afternoon and will conclude with lunch on Wednesday.  Our theme is HEART 2 HEART:  WE ARE NOT ALONE; and, as in years past, we are anticipating a wonderful time of renewal and connection!  Speakers for this event include:  Bishop Carter, Jim Harnish, Geraldine McClellan, & Gary MarcelinJeremy Hearn will lead our worship.

Still time to register!  Would you please do that today?  Click HERE to register.

Stephen Ministry Introductory Workshop
October 10, 2015 - First Baptist Orlando

Stephen Ministry is the one-to-one lay caring ministry that takes place in congregations that use the Stephen Series system.  Stephen Ministry congregations equip and empower lay caregivers - called Stephen Ministers - to provide high-quality, confidential, Christ-centered care to people who are hurting. 


October 10, 2015
9:00am - 1:00pm
First Baptist Orlando
(Faith Hall-Stage Side Room)

3000 S John Young Pkwy
Orlando, FL  32805 

Click HERE to register.  View map

Great Expectations for Boomers & Beyond
October 22 - 24, 2015 - First UMC, Winter Park
Great Expectations for Boomers & Beyond is a conference designed to address the needs of the growing population of those over 50.  This unique event will encourage and engage participants with passion and creativity.  It also will provide countless ideas and opportunities for growth, as well as pave the way for tapping into the spiritual gifts and talents of older adults.

For more details about the conference, to check out the schedule of breakout sessions or to register, go to our Web Site:  Questions?  Contact Rev. Gary Rideout at

Fresh Expressions Vision Day
November 21, 2015 - St. Luke's UMC
Fresh Expressions is a movement that is cultivating new kinds of church alongside existing congregations in order to reach a changing world.  Begun in England nearly 10 years ago, it has resulted in the birth of over 3,000 new communities in the UK alone.  Fresh Expressions has spread to Australia, Canada, and New Zealand; and it is now taking shape in the US.

At its heart, Fresh Expressions is about empowering and equipping God's people to develop creative expressions of church that can reach the increasing diversity of our post-Christian society.
Fresh Expressions Vision Day
Saturday, November 21st
9:30am - 3:30pm
St. Luke's United Methodist Church
4851 S Apopka Vineland Rd
Orlando, FL  32819
Click HERE for more information & to register.  Click HERE for a flyer.
Questions? email
East Central District 2015 Charge Conference Reminders
  • Paperwork due 7 days PRIOR to Charge Conference (without signatures):

1. 2015 Charge Conference Voting Matters Agenda
2. 2016 Appointed Pastor's Compensation Form
3. 2016 Appointed Pastor's Housing Exclusion Form

  • ALL Paperwork must arrive into the district office via US mail NO LATER than 1 week after Charge Conference.  (Please send the photocopies and keep the originals.  Do not use a cover or bind the materials.)  All documents must have All signatures.
  • The church Dashboard must be updated with all the leaders for 2016 within 1 week of Charge Conference.
  • Charge Conference Forms with detailed instructions are available on the Florida Conference website.       
  • Financial Audits:  We will be looking for the date and the name of the auditor.  If an audit has not been completed this year, we will want the name of the auditor and the date in the near future that it will be completed.
EC District Mission Team going to Cuba in 2016
Team from Faith UMC in Cuba in September with
Cuba-Florida "Methodists United in Prayer"
Rev. Jamie Faberlle of Faith United Methodist Church of Orlando led a mission team from Faith Church and Harvest UM Church, Bradenton to Eastern Cuba the week of September 7-15.  While the team from Harvest UMC went to the Holguin Central District and to the Methodist Church in El Mamey, Rev. Faberlle's team went across the Tunas District from Omaja to Puerto Padre and on to their sister church in Jobabo.  Pastor Jamie shared this week that he "left many friends in Cuba" when they departed for Miami on September 15.

District Pastors to Travel to Holguin in 2016:  12 Pastors from the East Central District are invited to join Rev. Rusty Belcher in traveling to Havana and on to Holguin, Cuba.  This group will travel to Havana, visit the old city and stay at the conference center, visit some of the churches of La Habana and then travel to eastern Cuba for the two day District Conference at the John Branscomb Memorial Methodist Church, Cathedral Holguin.  A Team is being formed to attend the Holguin District Conference.  If you are interested, please contact Rusty Belcher at, church: 407-656-1135 or cell:  407-616-7604.  This group is forming in October.  Please pray for our brothers and sisters of the Methodist Churches in Cuba.

For more information on "Methodists United in Prayer" and the partnerships between the United Methodist Churches of Florida and the Methodist Church in Cuba please contact:

-- Rev. Aldo Martin

-- Rev. Chris Akers at

-- Rev. Rusty Belcher

Around The Conference 
Moving Towards Commissioning
November 5 - 6, 2015 - LEC, Fruitland Park
Moving Towards Commissioning:

A Workshop for Local Pastors & Certified Candidates

Having trouble getting started on those written questions for the Board of Ordained Ministry?  Unmotivated to work on contingencies and growth areas for those doctrinal questions?  Just frustrated with the whole process?  This workshop is for you!

When:  November 5th at 1:00pm and ends on November 6th at 12:00pm
Where:  The Life Enrichment Center, Fruitland Park, FL
Cost:  $25.00 - includes Thursday's night dinner & lodging & breakfast Friday morning.
Facilitators:  Dr. Anne Burkholder, Dr. Wayne Wiatt and BOOM Representatives:  Chair of Theology, Personal Growth, and Proclamation.

This workshop is designed to motivate and assist certified candidates and licensed local pastors who are:
  • under the age of 55 years
  • Who are enrolled in or have completed seminary
  • Who are serving in the Florida Conference

...with getting your written applications for commissioning completed successfully.

Please register online no later than October 26, 2015.  Click HERE to register.

Young Adult Missional Movement (YAMM)
One of the greatest strengths of our Conference is our continuum of excellence opportunities for our young people.  In addition to our camps and conference, our youth programming and our campus ministries, just last year we have created the Young Adult Missional Movement.  We are providing an opportunity for young adults 18-30 years old to experience God's love through meaningful work, cooperative living and community engagement.

Please consider adding financial support in your local church budget through our Conference Advance to this engine for leadership development and exciting opportunity for young adults to serve in our communities and discern a call to vocational ministry.  This is a great way for your church to 'support missionaries' right here in addition to supporting our missionaries abroad.

The Young Adult Missional Movement continues to grow and develop.  This, it's second year, there are four houses of young adults serving around our conference.  The four houses of young adults serving around our conference.  The four teams are located on the Northside of Jacksonville, Central Orlando, Immokalee, and South Miami.

The conference advance number to support the Young Adult Missional Movement is 113030.  Questions?  Email Heidi Aspinwall, Director of YAMM
FLUMC Recipe Contest:  Get Cooking and Fight Hunger!

The Florida Conference kicked off its first recipe contest this September, the month designated as Hunger Action Month by Feeding America.  And, it will run through October, which is World Hunger Action Month, a focus for Stop Hunger Now.

Click HERE for contest rules, prize information and how to submit your recipe.  Your recipes will become a part of our Conference recipe box!

Instead of awarding a prize for an individual recipe, the contest winners will be the churches who submit the highest number of recipes.  Those churches with the most participation will receive funding for a hunger prevention ministry of their choice.  Your church could win $1,000, $750 or $500!

So mobilize your cooks, chefs, grillers and BBQ teams, and send us your recipes!

Native American Representative

Do you have an interest in learning more about Native American people?

Do you have a "heart" to reach out to Native American people?

Do you know that there are thousands of Native American people living throughout our conference?

The Florida Annual Conference and the Committee on Native American Ministries (CONAM) needs your help.  It is our goal to see a Native American Ministry Representative Appointed in each church.  This person would be instrumental in keeping their congregation informed about the needs of the native people in their area and of ways that your congregation can help.  If you would like to help us reach the Native American people in the Florida conference,  Click HERE to learn more.
Questions? Contact Vickie Swartz - CONAM Chair at or at 941-544-6951.
Early Response Team Training
October 23 - 24, 2015 - Warren W. Willis
Early Response Teams (ERT) are self-contained teams who enter a disaster zone at the invitation of local emergency management officials.  ERT's offer a Christian presence and are trained to provide various types of physical, emotional and spiritual assistance to disaster survivors.  ERT's are registered with the Disaster Recovery Ministry of The Florida Annual Conference, and Disaster Recovery coordinates team placement with emergency management to get help where it is needed most after a disaster. 

Note:  Basic Disaster Ministry Training is required before taking ERT Training.   Click HERE for more details and to register online.

We want you and your congregation members to share their stories of inspiration, ministry and missions!  We are interested in photos, written stories and video stories, and we've reserved space on the Conference website and Facebook page for highlighting our local church and extension ministries to share them. 

Click on color and/or black and white bulletin inserts to spread the word among your staff and members.

Thank you for helping us gather stories and your church, ministries and the church members who are the hands and feet of Christ!  

Video Stories

We want to share your church's video stories with everyone
in the Florida Conference!

Once a week, we feature a new church video on our homepage about what's happening around the Conference.  Submit your video to share your ministries with the rest of us and show how your church is impacting your community.

And, you can learn about how other local churches are impacting their communities and get ministry ideas by visiting our Video Library HERE.

Submit your video now!

The Journeys of Paul with Bishop Carter
November 7, 2015 
The pilgrimage to Israel in May 2014 with my friend, the beloved teacher Bob Tuttle, and friends from across the Florida Conference and beyond was a wonderful time of fellowship.  I would like to i nvite you to join me as we sail through the Mediterranean following in the Footsteps of the Apostle Paul.  I am excited to have Dr. Waite Willis join us from Florida Southern College as our Guest Speaker.  I am inviting pastors, teachers, and members of our churches to join us in this profound experience of travel, study, worship and fellowship aboard the Rhapsody of the Seas.  I hope you will make this pilgrimage with us in 2015!

Bishop Ken Carter
Florida Conference
United Methodist Church 

Click Here for more details and to view a video.
Click Here for a bulletin insert. 
Missio Ecclesia
February 17-19, 2016 - Grace UMC, Cape Coral
Discover WHY and HOW the people of God can join Jesus on mission! 

Also speaking:  Bishop Ken Carter and Pastor Jorge Acevedo.  Click HERE to register.
Northern Ireland Tour
May 25 - June 1, 2016
An Open Invitation to join Gary Spencer, Atlantic Central District Superintendent
and Mark Charles, St. Andrew UMC Senior Pastor on an 9 day tour on Christianity in Northern Ireland.  Click HERE for the brochure.
Questions?  Contact Gary Spencer at 321-332-3935 or
The Race Conversation
The Race Conversation is the fourth in a series of brief fact sheets about our developing major conference initiatives.  The fact sheets, a communication effort designed by Bishop Carter, provide a quick overview describing:
  • What is the initiative?
  • Where are we now in its development?
  • Where are we going with it?

The purpose is to inform our key leaders and others about these initiatives not only for their own information, but also to provide leaders with answers to "what's going on?" questions asked by their constituents.

The fact sheets are being produced by the Strategic Leadership Team and our Communications Department.  They will be published on a regular basis, and future topics include:

  • Teaching Churches
  • Fresh Invitation to the Gospel
  • General Conference 2016

Click HERE for The Race Conversation fact sheet.  Click HERE for our previous fact sheet on The Nehemiah Sheet.

UMW response is now digital!
United Methodist Women is excited to announce response digital! 

response magazine is the official magazine of United Methodist Women.  In addition to the 48-page glossy print magazine, they now offer response in digital format as well!

The e-version of response lets you read stories on your e-reader, tablet, phone or computer, for convenience, mobility and accessibility - take response with you wherever you go. 

Beginning October 2015 you may subscribe to response digital for 15 percent off the print price!  Individual digital issues will also be available for purchase.

Already a print subscriber?  All print subscribers will receive a free digital subscription as well!  Now is a great time to subscribe or buy a gift subscription to response.

For now, enjoy your free issue of response digital!
2015 Florida Clergy Mates Retreat
November 5 - 7, 2015
District Calendar of Events
October 2015
October 6-7: Bishop's Gathering with Clergy at the LEC
October 8: EC dCOM Training Meeting 9:00am-1:30pm - Asbury UMC, Maitland
October 12-13: Cabinet Meeting in Lakeland
October 18: Installation Service Celebrating Rev. Dr. Bob Bushong -Asbury UMC, Maitland 6:30pm
October 20: EC NCD - 11:00am - 1:00pm - District Office
October 22-24: Great Expectations Boomers & Beyond, First Winter Park
October 24: UMW District Annual Meeting - Orange City UMC
October 27: HR Health Benefits Mtg 10am - Tomoka UMC, Ormond Beach
October 27: HR Health Benefits Mtg 2pm - Asbury UMC, Maitland
October 29: EC dCOM - 9:00am-4:00pm Asbury UMC, Maitland Cancelled
November 2015
November 5: Local Church Administrative Staff Training - 8:35am-3:00pm - Sanlando 
November 10: EC District Leadership Team Mtg - 10:00am - noon - District Office
November 11: District Office Closed in observance of Veterans Day
November 19: EC dCOM - 9:00am-4:00pm Asbury UMC, Maitland
November 26 & 27: District Office Closed for Thanksgiving Holiday
December 2015
December 1: SPRC Training - 6:30pm - Asbury UMC, Maitland
December 3-4: Cabinet Meeting Lakeland
December 15: Retiree Christmas Luncheon - 11:30am - 1:30pm - District Parsonage
December 17: EC dCOM - 9:00am-4:00pm Asbury UMC, Maitland
December 24-25: District Office Closed for Christmas Holiday
December 31: District Office Closed for New Year's Eve
January 2016
January 1: District Office Closed for New Year's Day
January 8 - 9: Candidacy Retreat

February 2016
February 6: Called to Serve - First UMC, Oviedo
April 2016
April 17, 2016: Announcement Sunday for Clergy Appointments
May 2016
May 10-20: General Conference of the UMC, Oregon Convention Center in Portland Oregon

June 2016
June 15 - 18, 2016: Annual Conference - The Buena Vista Palace Hotel & Spa, Lake Buena Vista
June 28, 2015: Moving Day for Clergy Moving

July 2016
July 8 - 9: Candidacy Retreat

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